I received this book for free from Gifted, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, We Are Okay
Published by Penguin Group US on 2014-05-15
Genres: Film, Gay & Lesbian, LGBT, Love & Romance, Performing Arts, Young Adult
Source: Gifted, Publisher
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A love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of—and behind—the camera from the award-winning author of Hold Still.
A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.
Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.
There are not enough words in the world to describe just how delightful I found Everything Leads To You by Nina LaCour to be. Friends, this is a book where I am so full and satisfied with what I got. I opened Everything Leads To You knowing that it was an LGBTQ book and that the main character designs sets. I did not know I would be reading about friendship, family, and love. I did not know that I would be reading about a character with such a fascinating talent and passion. I did not know that this book would transcend ALL of my expectations. Seriously, LaCour’s latest has been such a pleasant and wonderful surprise.
Emi’s brother Toby is a location scout, he’s very young but good at his job. He also has a really cool LA apartment that is perfectly homey. When Emi and Charlotte are visiting Toby, he gives them the most awesome gift. While he is in Europe, instead of subletting his apartment, he is going to let Emi and Charlotte stay there with the stipulation that they do something epic in the apartment, more epic than throwing a party. Emi has no idea what her epic thing is going to be, but she’s up for the challenge. And thus, begins her summer. Meanwhile, she’s designing her first set which is a super huge deal for an intern. So, anyways, Emi goes to the estate sale for this deceased Western film star named Clyde Jones and ends up purchasing a few things for the set, along with a belt buckle for Toby and a Patsy Cline album. Okay, so I am realizing that I have these events a little twisted, Emi goes to the sale first and then Toby gives her the apartment. Anyways, Emi puts the Patsy Cline album on to mope about her ex-girlfriend Morgan, when a letter falls out. Through the letter, Emi and Charlotte discover that Clyde Jones had a secret child. And so, it is the start of something truly epic.
Emi, the main character, is actually really awesome. She’s written in such a way that I immediately liked her and was able to relate to her. First of all, she’s totally over high school and is just so cool compared to her classmates. Second of all, she loves a good epic story. I mean, the things that happen as a result of Clyde’s letter are epic and grand and amazing, yet Emi realizes that it’s more than a story, but a person’s life. Third of all, Emi’s passion, for set design and film, is so awesome. Like, we read about what Emi calls the collapse of the fantasy where because she’s so knowledgeable about films, the fantasy they provide kind of collapses. It was interesting to see this discussed over and over. Also, Emi is a lesbian and we read about some facets of this, but also, it’s like she’s just a main character who happens to be a lesbian, if you know what I mean. OH AND Emi has the world’s most awesome best friend named Charlotte. AND her family is really cool.
LaCour’s Everything Leads To You happens to have a really excellent romantic lead too. Ava Garden Wilder is a character we meet midway through the book, but she’s just great. Like, this is a girl who has a really hard life and so, she discovers some outstanding secrets about her life. She converges with Emi and it’s kind of really perfect how the two connect and meet and how their relationship evolves. We see Emi go from seeing Ava as a means to a great story to being an actual person with dreams and hopes and feelings. It’s just so perfectly developed on both a shallow swoon-worthy level because romance and love is beautiful and also on a deeper level with themes and such.
I really want to touch upon the set design. This was such a cool element in the story. I really loved how LaCour describes how the small touches on a set, the color of a curtain, the types on pillows on a sofa all matter and do a little something to tell a story within a movie or tv show. I never really thought about the background or the set before. Yet, I think the effect of a set is so subtle on my brain that this does make sense to me. And you guys, it’s awesome to see Emi at work designing sets and looking for props and furniture and just the little touches. I loved reading about her talent and interest.
I have to admit that I spent a lot of the book feeling dread that something bad was going to happen and everything was going to totally fall apart. Let’s just say I read a lot of YA books where the drama feels manufactured. In this book, there is little of that. Sure, there’s a big arching mystery and some drama, but I don’t know. It just feels a little bit more authentic. I felt like finally I could relax and not be scared Everything Leads To You would go off the deep end with the characters and the plotting. Thank you, thank you Nina LaCour for having such a cohesive and perfect plot with some action, sure, but mainly this perfect meld of characters and plot and setting.